Christopher Valen

Christopher Valen
St. Paul, Minnesota, United States
August 11
I'm a mystery writer living in St. Paul, Minnesota. My first police procedural, "White Tombs", featuring St. Paul Homicide Detective John Santana, was released in March of 2008. "White Tombs" was selected by Reader Views as Best Mystery of 2008. "White Tombs" also won the Garcia Award for Best Fiction of 2008. My second John Santana novel, "The Black Minute", was released in September of 2009. The third Santana novel, "Bad Weeds Never Die," will be released in September 2011. You can see more on my website at I also write a blog about crime and justice entitled Probable Cause.


Christopher Valen's Links
APRIL 21, 2010 3:12PM

Arizona's Return to the Middle Ages

Rate: 2 Flag

One of the first recorded incidences of racial and ethnic profiling occurred in 1215 when Pope Innocent III decreed that, “Jews and Saracens [Muslims] of both sexes in every Christian province and at all times shall be marked off in the eyes of the public from other peoples through the character of their dress.” Following the decree, the use of badges became widespread throughout Europe and continued until very late in the eighteenth century.

In September 1939, seven hundred and twenty-four years after Pope Innocent’s decree, authorities in Poland announced that, “We are returning to the Middle Ages. The yellow patch once again becomes a part of Jewish dress. Today an order was announced that all Jews, no matter what age or sex, have to wear a band of "Jewish-yellow.” Two years later, on September 1, 1941, badges were issued to Jews within Germany as well as occupied Poland. This badge was the yellow Star of David with the word "Jude" ("Jew") and worn on the left side of the chest.

Now, Arizona’s legislature has passed a bill that would require police officers to check the immigration status of anyone if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that person may be in the country illegally. Republican governor Jan Brewer is deciding whether to sign the bill. “Reasonable suspicion” is not clearly defined. But it’s obvious that anyone who “looks” Latino, just like anyone who looked Jewish, could be stopped and required to produce documentation proving they are legally in the country.

Under current federal law, states and local agencies can voluntarily sign up with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to act with federal authority in enforcing US immigration laws only while making arrests for local or state crimes. The Arizona measure would drop that key stipulation and compel police to pick up illegal immigrants “when practicable.” Citizens could even sue officials to compel such enforcement.

With no safeguards against illegal profiling by police who may be prejudiced against Latino immigrants, the measure would most certainly lead to civil rights abuses and might undermine efforts in Congress to solve the problem of more than 10 million illegal immigrants living in the US. In addition, if Latinos fear arbitrary detention by police, they will no doubt be less likely to cooperate or assist law enforcement in targeting criminals.

Not surprisingly, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the American Jewish Committee, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs have sent a letter to Arizona's governor urging her to veto the bill. If passed, they said the bill "would make state and local law enforcement officers' jobs nearly impossible, and would bring us further from, not closer to, the goal we all share of making our communities safer." The bill would also “cause hardship to countless Arizona residents -- U.S. citizens, legal immigrants, and undocumented immigrants alike -- who if this law is passed will live under a cloud of suspicion and fear."

Arizona’s actions should be a wakeup call to the President and Congress. They must act quickly to reform our immigration system before states are allowed to return to those wonderful years of racial and ethnic profiling.


Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
The utter stupidity of this law makes my head spin. Aside from the troubling draconianess of the police being able to detain anyone on suspicion of commiting no other crime than not having the proper immigration papers, Arizona used to be part of Mexico, and is also home to the largest number of Navajos in the U.S. So of COURSE no native-born Arizonan, descended from generations of native-born Arizonans, would have anything but lily-white skin. Everybody knows that.
Wonderfully written article with very compelling facts. It is so sad what is going on in Arizona. It is one of mt favorite states but is being tarnished by this disturbing trend.

So much hate is going on throughout the country & the world. The phenomenon in Arizona has been going on for some time & is now being fueled by a growing sentiment in the country. The profiling is being silently allowed and thus promoted, Christopher, as you well know.

There must be more protesting, gatherings on the National Mall in Washington, where many are now gathering and using as it's stage. I will do all that I can to promote awareness to your plight. The profiling is now so widespread that many have just grown apathetic or the cultivate attitudes of hate, in their homes and hearts. So much disturbing propaganda that feeds this injustice.

Continue to galvanize communities there, saturate the airways with information of the frequency of incidences, and create a strong grassroots movement. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do. Send me a PM & please continue to use this vehicle to keep us posted. You can see by the number of people that have viewed your post, but do not feel compelled to rate/leave a comment; that people either don't give a damn or feel that the actions of law enforcement in Arizona is justified. I have seen a greater response on my blog which is about a dead queen who had many lovers.

You may want to create a blog that has the identity of one of those targeted there, using the voice & speaking for those that cannot speak, but are tragically left to endure & suffer. Ignite empathy & speak to those who had fore parents that immigrated to this country. try to connect with other victims of racial profiling, such as African Americans.

I frankly don't understand the level of detachment & disassociation since everyone other than the Native Americans, came to this country by plane or by ship. Thank you for this post and my thought & prayers are with all of you. Cleo Gardner
Our most popular: shoes, bags, clothes, hundreds of styles, waiting for you to choose.
Air jordan(1-24)shoes $33

Handbags(Coach l v f e n d i d&g) $35

Tshirts (Polo ,ed hardy,lacoste) $16

Jean(True Religion,ed hardy,coogi) $30

Sunglasses(Oakey,coach,gucci,A r m a i n i) $16
The facts --
Arizona's Gov. Brewer signed SB1070 into law in April of 2010. Combined with HB2162 (which amends SB1070), the new law will:

Make it illegal in the State of Arizona for an alien to not register with the government, thus being an "illegal alien" (already the case at the federal level: 8 USC 1306a; USC 1304e)

Allow police to detain people where there is a "reasonable suspicion" that they're illegal aliens (see the recent court case Estrada v. Rhode Island for an idea of what "reasonable suspicion" might entail)

Prohibits sanctuary cities (already prohibited at the federal level, 8 USC 1373) and allows citizens to sue any such jurisdiction.

Seventy percent of Arizona voters support the new law. Much of the outcry in the press has stemmed from misinformation about the law that may have originated with the local paper, The Arizona Republic.

Reality vs. Myth: SB1070

Myth No. 1 : The law requires aliens to carry identification that they weren't already required to carry.

Reality: It has been a federal crime (8 United States Code Section 1304(a) or 1306(e)) since 1940 for aliens to fail to carry their registration documents. The Arizona law reaffirms the federal law. Anyone who has traveled abroad knows that other nations have similar requirements.

The majority requests for documentation will take place during the course of other police business such as traffic stops. Because Arizona allows only lawful residents to obtain licenses, an officer must presume that someone who produces one is legally in the country. (See News Hour clip 3:45 seconds in)

Myth No. 2: The law will encourage racial profiling.

Reality: The Arizona law reduces the chances of racial profiling by requiring officers to contact the federal government when they suspect a person is an illegal alien as opposed to letting them make arrests on their own assessment as federal law currently allows.

Section 2 was amended (by HB2162) to read that a law enforcement official "may not consider race, color, or national origin" in making any stops or determining an alien's immigration status (previously, they were prohibited in "solely" considering those factors). In addition, all of the normal Fourth Amendment protections against racial profiling still apply.

Myth No. 3: "Reasonable suspicion" is a meaningless term that will permit police misconduct.

Reality: "Reasonable suspicion" has been defined by the courts for decades (the Fourth Amendment itself proscribes "unreasonable searches and seizures"). One of the most recent cases, Estrada v. Rhode Island, provides an example of the courts refining of "reasonable suspicion:"

A 15 passenger van is pulled over for a traffic violation. The driver of the van had identification but the other passengers did not (some had IDs from a gym membership, a non-driver's license card from the state, and IDs issued from the Guatemalan Consulate). The passengers said they were on their way to work but they had no work permits. Most could not speak English but upon questioning, admitted that they were in the United States illegally. The officer notified ICE and waited three minutes for instructions.

The SB1070 provision in question reads:

"For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency of this state . . . where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person."

Myth No. 4: The law will require Arizona police officers to stop and question people.

Reality: The law only kicks in when a police officer stopped, detained, or arrested someone (HB2162). The most likely contact is during the issuance of a speeding ticket. The law does not require the officer to begin questioning a person about his immigration status or to do anything the officer would not otherwise do.

Only after a stop is made, and subsequently the officer develops reasonable suspicion on his own that an immigration law has been violated, is any obligation imposed. At that point, the officer is required to call ICE to confirm whether the person is an illegal alien.

The Arizona law is actually more restrictive than federal law. In Muehler v. Mena (2005), the Supreme Court ruled that officers did not need reasonable suspicion to justify asking a suspect about their immigration status, stating that the court has “held repeatedly that mere police questioning does not constitute a seizure” under the Fourth Amendment).